As Jackie and I waited for our first official Youth Council meeting to start, we crossed our fingers, hoping people would show up. Orientation day, last week, consisted of us talking at, more than with, three students. Standing in new territory, I was unsure of how we could motivate them to think outside of the box and come up with their own ideas. Much to our surprise, seven students walked through the door this week. All on time, excited and equipped with their own suggestions on how to improve Permet.
We discussed what qualities a good leader has and what makes that important. We also emphasized, this was their council and they will be in charge of the decisions. There won’t be one individual leader, but they will work together to implement a project over the next few months. They had an air of enthusiasm that surprised me, especially considering they were high school students. Their ideas ranged from having a bake sale to food drive to city clean up days. All to fund a new playground for the children of Permet. We helped them sort through their ideas and recommended ways to improve their initial proposals.
I was pleasantly surprised at the attitude and ideas the kids presented at our first official meeting. Often times, volunteers, can be swept up in the negatives of a culture. It’s easier to see the troublemakers and flaws of the schools and harder to find the hidden gems intertwined within that system. As always, these students provided me with a friendly Albanian reminder, to keep an open mind. Regardless of how subtle the steps towards improvement are, it’s still movement. Any step, big or small, is a stride in the right direction.